[meteorite-list] NASA Mars Rover Curiosity's Arm Wields Camera Well

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 2012 14:45:05 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201209102145.q8ALj5d3024422_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


NASA Mars Rover Curiosity's Arm Wields Camera Well
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
September 10, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity stepped through
activities on Sept. 7, 8 and 9 designed to check and characterize
precision movements by the rover's robotic arm and use of tools on the arm.

The activities confirmed good health and usefulness of Mars Hand Lens
Imager, or MAHLI, and used that camera to check arm placement during
several positioning activities.

MAHLI took an image with its reclosable dust cover open for the first
time on Mars, confirming sharp imaging capability that had been obscured
by a thin film of dust on the cover during previous use of the camera.
It took images of cameras at the top of Curiosity's mast, of the
underbelly of the rover and of MAHLI's own calibration target, among
other pointings.

"Wow, seeing these images after all the tremendous hard work that has
gone into making them possible is a profoundly emotional moment," said
MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems,
San Diego. "It is so exciting to see the camera returning beautiful,
sharp images from Mars."

Selected MAHLI images, with captions, are available at:
http://1.usa.gov/PecY9c . Raw versions of all MAHLI images are
available along with raw images from the other cameras on Curiosity at:
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/ .

The camera's calibration target includes a 1909 Lincoln penny that
Edgett purchased for this purpose. "We're seeing the penny in the
foreground and, looking past it, a setting I'm sure the people who
minted these coins never imagined," Edgett said.

The penny is a nod to geologists' tradition of placing a coin or other
object of known scale as a size reference in close-up photographs of
rocks, and it gives the public a familiar object for perceiving size
easily when it will be viewed by MAHLI on Mars.

"The folks who drive the rover's arm and turret have taken a 220-pound
arm through some very complex tai chi, to center a penny in an image
that's only a few centimeters across," said MAHLI Deputy Principal
Investigator Aileen Yingst of the Tucson-based Planetary Science
Institute. "They make the impossible look easy."

The arm characterization activities, including more imaging by MAHLI,
will continue for a few days before Curiosity resumes driving toward a
mid-term science destination area called Glenelg. In that area, the
rover may use its scoop to collect a soil sample, and later its drill to
collect a sample of powder from inside a rock.

Curiosity is five weeks into a two-year prime mission on Mars. It will
use 10 science instruments to assess whether the selected study area
ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission for NASA's
Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

More information about Curiosity is online at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/msl and
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . You can follow the mission on Facebook
and on Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Mon 10 Sep 2012 05:45:05 PM PDT

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